MANATEE -- With little participation in past public hearings, Florida Department of Transportation wanted to do something different this year as a way to get public feedback on the tentative five-year work programs.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, FDOT District One will launch its first ePublic Hearing as a way to present and get feedback on the work program, which begins July 1, 2016 and runs through June 30, 2021. The ePublic Hearing will end at midnight Friday.Other FDOT districts have been doing ePublic Hearings for a couple of years.
"By having the ePublic Hearing, it enables the public to view the information on their schedule and revisit as often as they like during the ePublic Hearing period," FDOT spokesman Robin Stublen said. "We believe we will receive more input from the public. We also believe the public will have a better understanding in exactly what goes into the planning process by the department."
Florida law requires FDOT to have a public hearing for the department's tentative five-year work programs every year, Stublen said.
"These public hearings inform the public of future road projects in their specific areas and enable them to comment and offer suggestions until Oct. 30," he said.
As part of the public hearing, FDOT representatives will be at the Selby Library, 1331 1st St., Sarasota from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to "meet with interested persons, answer any questions and assist with website access," according to an FDOT news release.
"We want the public to participate," Stublen said. "It is their taxes that will be spent in their communities and we appreciate their input on these important projects."
After all comments are collected by Oct. 30 either via the online comment page or regular mail, then FDOT will respond to those comments, Stublen said.
"We take the comments into consideration and make changes where feasible," he said. "Once we complete this process, we send the work program to Tallahassee for adoption."
Manatee County projects include:
Anna Maria Island Bridge Project Development and Environment Study.
Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis.
Cortez Bridge Project Development and Environment Study.
Interstate 75/U.S. 301 Interchange Design.
I-75 at State Road 70 Design, which includes I-75 from north of University Parkway to south of State Road 64.
Port Manatee Connector Project Development and Environment Study.
East Bay Gulf Drive Pedestrian Improvements Project.
Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and 15th Street East Intersection Improvements Project.
State Road 789/Gulf Drive/E Bay Drive Roadway Improvements Project.
S.R. 70/53rd Avenue from Sixth Street East to Ninth Street East and on U.S. 301 at 25th Drive East
For more information about the projects and to participate in the ePublic Hearing, go to swflroads.com and click on future projects.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.